Britain's FTSE hits 7-week high, BSkyB jumps

LONDON Thu May 1, 2014 3:19am EDT

LONDON May 1 (Reuters) - Britain's top share index advanced for a fourth straight session to set a new seven-week high on Thursday, with encouraging reports from companies such as BSkyB and Lloyds improving sentiment.

British pay-TV operator BSkyB climbed 3.9 percent, the biggest gainer on the blue-chip FTSE 100 index, after saying it added 74,000 net new TV customers in its third quarter, more than double the growth it recorded last year.

Lloyds Banking Group, which is 25 percent-owned by the government, rose 2.5 percent after saying its pretax profit jumped 22 percent in the first quarter as costs fell and margins improved. Lloyds also said it would apply to the Bank of England in the second half of the year to restart dividend payouts.

The FTSE 100 index was up 0.2 percent at 6,791.12 points by 0708 GMT after setting a seven-week high of 6,796.58 points earlier in the session. The index is less than 2 percent away from a life-time high set in May 2013.

Trading volumes are likely to be thin as most of other stock markets in Europe are closed for the May Day holiday. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Alison Williams)